PITTSFIELD -- Two Pittsfield companies have been fined for various employment violations, according to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The now-closed Jae’s Spice restaurant on North Street was fined $3,000, while Pittsfield’s Sampco Inc. was fined $500. Sampco, which was recognized by the U.S. Chamber in 2010 as an exemplary small business and employs 500 people nationwide, designs and manufactures samples and displays for the global building material’s industry.
Sampco owner Mike Ryan wouldn’t disclose the circumstances surrounding the infraction or how many people were affected, but he insists Sampco follows state and federal guidelines.
"We have very strict policy procedures," Ryan said. "We have been here more than 20 years and those policies allowed us to be recognized by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce as an up-and-coming successful business. You don’t get there by not being strict on conduct for your company."
In 2010, Sampco Co. was chosen by the U.S. Chamber as a Blue Ribbon Small Business Award winner. Besides excellent business practices, the award recognizes each company’s commitment to its employees, customers and community.
The Jae’s Spice infraction concerned an improperly filled out I-9 form, said Anthony Gianacoplulous, the lawyer for Jae Chung, who had a financial stake in the restaurant.
"[The fine] wasn’t because of someone that was not supposed to be there," Gianacoplulous said.
The two Pittsfield businesses were among 17 businesses statewide that were fined following an investigation and audit of I-9 documents by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations. The I-9 requires employers to verify a new employee’s identity, citizenship and employment eligibility.
Altogether, the employers were fined $349,619 for various employment violations. The largest penalty was levied against Northern Pelagic Group LLC, a seafood processing plant in New Bedford, which was fined $151,200 -- the most of any.
The fines were for fiscal year 2012, which ended Sept. 30.
The inspections are part of Homeland Security Investigations’ worksite enforcement effort. The strategy was launched in 2009 to "reduce the demand for illegal employment opportunities for the nation’s lawful workforce."